500 people homeless in Colchester this winter
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More than 500 people are homeless in Colchester as the borough council carries out its annual count of rough sleepers in the town.
Homeless charity Shelter revealed that there was 20 individuals sleeping on the streets across the borough of Colchester and 490 people in temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfasts or staying temporarily with friends.
It means that one in 373 people in the town are homeless.
Colchester council conducted their rough sleeper count on November 23 – searching the areas of the district there are reports of rough sleepers to identify the extent of the problem.
A council spokesman said: “Council volunteers, partner agencies working in housing and Colchester Borough Homes carried out the count and worked to help those sleeping rough in the borough with by directing them to the services that will support them.
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“Colchester Borough Homes employs a rough sleeper co-ordinator which has enabled us to significantly improve our knowledge about and engagement with rough sleepers, getting positive outcomes for those with complex problems.
“The have an emphasis on engaging early with new rough sleepers - preventing their second night on the street offering pathways into accommodation and, for long-term entrenched rough sleepers, a solution that works for them.”
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Colchester has the highest rate of homelessness in districts in north Essex and east Suffolk, however both Chelmsford and Basildon have even higher rates, with one in 214 and one in 162 people homeless respectively.
By comparison, the most urban districts in Suffolk are lower - St Edmundsbury has one in 749 people, Ipswich has one in 877 people and Waveney has one in 1,223 people.
The number of homeless people in the East of England has dropped by 4% since 2017, in contrast to the 4% increase across Britain.
Shelter’s analysis of the most recent data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The charity has described the scale of homelessness across the country as “unforgivable”, saying action needs to be taken ahead of the winter months.
The chief executive of Shelter, Polly Neate, said: “These new figures show that homelessness is having a devastating impact on the lives of people right across the country.
“Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room.
“We desperately need action now to change tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives will be blighted by homelessness this winter.”
The Secretary of State for Communities, James Brokenshire, said: “No one should be left without a roof over their head, which is why we are determined to end rough sleeping and respond to the causes of homelessness.
“We are investing more than £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness and a new law requires councils to support people sooner to help prevent them becoming homeless in the first place.
“Our rough sleeping strategy, support for councils and those working on the front line are helping to get people off the street and into accommodation as we enter the colder winter months.”
He said the Government’s £9billion Affordable Homes Programme was ensuring that local authorities had the support they needed to build more council homes.
Mr Brokenshire added: “But we know that there is more that we need to do and we’re committed to working with Shelter and others to make a positive difference on this important issue.”